It’s an exciting prospect, bringing new varieties on the market. Greek fruit exporter aims to do just that for both grapes and kiwis. Next to a yellow-fleshed kiwi, they also expect to bring several new grape varieties to the market in the upcoming years. After investing in machinery and their packhouse, they feel they’re ready for these new challenges.
Christina Manosis, sales manager for Zeus, thinks the kiwi production overall will be higher than last season. “Thanks to favorable weather thus far, we anticipate an increase in terms of kiwi production. We expect this increase to be about 15 to 20 per cent compared to last year. For our grapes, we expect the harvested volumes to be pretty much the same as last year when speaking about Crimson grapes. We do however expect the quality to be a lot higher with larger sizes. We already have already some plots with trial varieties of a red variety called Jack Salute, which is a late variety, and white varieties like Sugar Crisp, also a late variety, and Sweet Globe, a mid to late variety. This season we expect to harvest our first trial volumes on Jack Salute, it will be a couple of years before we can harvest the other varieties. The Zeus philosophy lies upon being in the forefront of the fresh produce market, growing what the market needs with Zeus quality brand.”
Zeus has been investing in their machinery and packhouse as a whole. This process should finally be completed this year, Manosis says: “This year we will complete the installation of the whole kiwifruit calibration and packing process. Last year we introduced a brand new sorting machine with cameras that detects external fruit defects, like bruises and marks, and internal quality cameras that sort fruit based on pressure. This year we have completed this investment, by introducing a fully automated line of bin fillers. We will also make the most of our packhouse by having one more level, so we get more flexible and functional by having more space available.”
With these new investments, the focus of Zeus now shifts to entering some new Asian markets. “Our immediate target this season when kiwi season starts will be Thailand , South Korea, for which Greece already has a license, and soon Vietnam. Also the sound receival of Zeus crimson grapes last season, after 40 days of transit time, we feel confident about sending more grapes to these markets the upcoming season.” Manosis explains.
It seemed like Greece had covid-19 pretty much under control, but with the tourists pouring in, cases are rising. Manosis fears it will mean restrictions will be reintroduced soon. “Our country has generally tackled Covid very efficiently. However tourism has increased the number of Covid cases, which in turn has an impact. We can expect more restrictions in our daily lives coming up again. For the grape and kiwi seasons, Zeus is taking all necessary measures to prevent the virus and protect our workers in their labor environment. Strict health controls will be introduced in our daily routine, workers body temperature will be measured prior to their shift, lunch breaks will be split depending on the daily labor employed and workers not feeling well will be isolated in a special Covid room. We have already daily disinfections in all the areas we work in and much more rules are yet to be applied when season starts. An unfortunate effect of the coronavirus will be the cancelation of all our participation in trade shows for the remainder of 2020. Instead, we will arrange a series of videocalls with all of our clients to meet their needs and demands.”
With all their new challenges ahead of them, Zeus is still considering the environmental issues important: “Whilst Zeus is associated to quality kiwifruit and grapes, we do more than that. Quality for Zeus means total quality, a definition that includes growing practices, corporate actions and an employee’s state of mind. And let’s not forget about the education towards the bottom line, which is our responsibility to environment. Quality can be nothing without preserving natural resources, without educating people acting and thinking in an environmentally friendly way. What if we succeed to deliver a quality fruit to our clients, but then we do not have an eco-friendly waste management process, or a corporate policy regulating rational use of energy, plastic, or even more if there is not a consistent self-assessment of the CO2 impact on our cultivation practices? Thinking about the bigger picture, is the whole story behind Zeus brand.” Manosis concludes.